Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens Vol. #2 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Bandai Entertainment
  • MSRP: 34.98
  • Running time: 175
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens

Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens Vol. #2

Are they goddesses or just delusional teenage girls?

By Chris Beveridge     October 02, 2009
Release Date: September 22, 2009


Kannagi Vol. #2
© Bandai Entertainment

Nagi’s presence in Jin’s life is causing her problems as she questions whether she really is a goddess. Plus the kids make a film.

What They Say
Are you one of Nagi's worshippers?

Nagi emerged from a wooden statue that Jin carved and she is supposed to be the physical incarnation of the local deity spirit of the town of Kannagi. Nagi is now living with Jin and with his help she is supposed to cleanse the "impurities" that plague the land.

Living under the same roof with a goddess is not easy for a teenage boy. Ever since she appeared, Jin's life has been complicated and there's been weird rumors going around about his relationship with his friend, Daitetsu. But things aren't so simple for a goddess as well, while Nagi questions her own divinity and disappears looking for answers.

Will Nagi find her own meaning?

Contains episodes 8-14:
Straying Wuthering Heights
Embarrassing School Comedy
Karaoke Warrior Mike Takako
But, Uncertain
It's Really Ephemeral
Jin, Lovestruck
What If "Kannagi" Was Like This...

The Review!
Audio:
Bandai's release of this series is unfortunate as it has only the Japanese language track which is encoded at 192kbps for its stereo mix. This is a show that really needed an English language dub because it's one that would have been a lot of fun to hear. The Japanese mix is pretty solid, though I do wish if they're going to do one language only, they give us more than a 192kbps encoding. There's some good directionality at times with this show, but a lot of it is just straightforward dialogue with some placement across the forward soundstage. There's nothing wrong with this mix at all and it does good by the material with no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in late 2008, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. This release contains the second half of the series with seven episodes on a dual layered disc. The show features some very strong animation and the authoring by Nightjar manages to do quite a good job with it. While there are some average area bitrates to be found, overall it's a very clean and pleasing presentation. Colors are vibrant, cross coloration is non-existent and the line noise is very minimal overall. I'm always a little wary with a seven episode disc, but I'm less so when it comes to Nightjar does the authoring.

Packaging:
Bandai doesn't use sideways covers all that often but it's really nicely done here. The background is really very appealing, something I often don’t find with dark and murky covers like this. Zange is the focus for this cover as she looks outward wihle the background is of the church interior that is identified with her. The logo along the left is done Japanese style with the letters going down in a slightly off manner with the Crazy Shrine Maidens tag next to it. The back cover is laid out more traditionally and it follows through on the same kind of background, but softer and more indistinct of the church. The text on it covers a lot with a good summary of the show that talk about a lot of things. The episode numbers and titles are clearly listed and the extras are laid out prominently. The rest is given over the production credits and the technical grid.  The problem with the first volume of the inaccurate runtime isn’t a problem here as it lists the proper runtime. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.

Menu:
The menu for this release mirrors the cover artwork but with Nightjar behind it, it gets juiced up in an appropriate way. There basic artwork is the same with Zange in the church with some light filtering through to her. It’s the kind of menu you don’t mind letting run for a few minutes. It’s also the kind of menu that reminds you of the old days before companies started doing static menus with no music and very minimal interaction overall. Submenus load quickly and with the disc being monolingual, player presets are a non-issue.

Extras:
This release contains a couple of extras, though it’s a bit deceptive with what’s in that section since they include trailers and DVD credits as part of the extras. What we do get are the clean versions of a couple of the endings which is very welcome.

Content:
The second half of Kannagi makes it onto this single disc release and we get the whole series overall on two discs in this quick and not so dirty format. The quick release of the first volume, at least to conventions and then distribution through a few online outlets, made the wait for the second volume hard because we didn’t really have to wait with the first. Now with the second half on hand, I find it has much the same feeling as the first, though with no real resolution of course since the manga is ongoing, though it’s on hiatus as of this writing.

The latter part of Kannagi does get around to dealing with a good bit of story to it, but it’s also intent on doing what a lot of thirteen episodes series do, and that’s to have some fun in the middle of it all. That fun part, which also makes up the OVA at the end here, is simple good natured material that helps bond the characters together and lets their personalities shine through nicely. One fun angle that’s played out is the way the relationships are being noticed by others. The strangest is that people start to think Jin and Daitetsu are something of a couple with the way they interact with each other and how Daitetsu stayed over at Jin and Nagi’s place just before that. It makes things worse for Jin since he’s also gaining an awkward reputation because of Nagi and all the other women that he deals with. There’s an amusing nod to him being involved in some complicated four way relationship only to have Daitetsu yell out something about not wanting to damage his relationship with him. Jin’s got it coming from all sides.

A lot of this is followed-up on in an episode revolving around karaoke when everyone gets together for the fun time. Naturally, there’s some apprehension as both Daitetsu and Jin haven’t done this before, while others like Nagi are juts eager to get involved in all of it. It’s cute and fun, more so for watching the secondary characters like Takako and Akiba perform. But it also highlights some of the awkwardness the characters feeling while also showing how caring and considering Tsugumi is as she tries to work with Jin on a duet. The fun material is also fully in force with the OVA episode at the end that stands alone as Takako has landed a hundred thousand yen and is funding a guerilla movie for her friends to participate in. It’s like many of these kinds of school movies in that it’s weird, under budgeted and pretty stupid in places, but it again helps to bond everyone together and to showcase the ensemble having a very good time together.

On the other side of the spectrum, the serious material starts in about halfway through this volume as Jin starts to get information that points out that Nagi may not exactly be a goddess. There is obviously some lack of serious information there, including the origins of the Kannagi shrine and what the gods were all about, but there’s also the point that he saw her form out of a wood block he was carving. Still, for some people, small suggestions can go a long way and his doubt really infects her and causes her to start seriously doubting herself as well. She has no choice but to wonder if she’s delusional and ends up disappearing from sight while trying to figure it out. The drama ratchets up a bit as the two leads try to figure out what they really are thinking and feeling while Tsugumi awkwardly tries to help out, even though it’s counterproductive to her own goals. It’s fairly predictable for all of this but it’s well executed and done in a way that makes you want to see how they play it out and how the other characters may get involved.

In Summary:
Though some of this volume felt a little forced in trying to do something serious, by and large Kannagi was a lot of fun. There are plenty of typical elements to be found, but sometimes these can be lessened with really good animation and a general lack of going over the top with the wacky factor. Kannagi does have a fair number of quiet moments and there isn’t a huge push for going wacky with the characters as it wants to be more cute than anything else. I liked this cast, I’d like to see more of them as they figure out their place in the world and what they want to do. And I’d like to see more of this kind of animation which really is quite appealing with its detail and sense of motion. While it’s not a life changer in any way, I found Kannagi to be a quite competent and well executed show in a rather overplayed genre. It doesn’t stand out above the rest, but it is one of the better ones and worth checking out for the way this release was done. Hopefully we’ll see more like this – in the short term as well!

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Closing

Review Equipment

Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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